Learn to Learn

Learning is a lifelong process both in terms of duration and diversity. A key element in lifelong learning is receptivity or openness. It is to retain a youthful mind even when the body continues to age. It is a mind that is ready to learn new things, relearn and improve the known things, and unlearn the outdated things. Lifelong learning also has, in a sense, a spiritual dimension. It lies in the humility to accept that there is no end to learning. When we are ready to learn and our power of receptivity is awakened, the whole world becomes a school and every life experience a teacher.

Today, technologies are rapidly evolving and changing life patterns within a lifetime. New ways of inexpensive printing, internet, and multimedia are ushering in radical changes and creating new complexities and contradictions in individual and social life. This flux in social groupings, economics, technology and Nature necessitates a regular revaluation and reframing of our thinking on education and learning. Various national and international education commissions are making serious efforts to answer such questions by redesigning the goals of education, the curriculum, and the tools of delivery.

Education is the greatest force for civilization. Passing on to the next generation the cumulative knowledge of sciences, technology, arts, fine arts, ethical values and spiritual realizations, in short the whole of civilizational heritage depends in the widest sense of education. In fact, the survival of human society depends on education. Experts in education have begun to emphasise that we should teach our children to be learners, rather than providing them occupational training, because the jobs that are available today may not exist tomorrow. Therefore, we must make learning about education itself a lifelong endeavour.

The policy makers in the field of education must themselves continue to learn and relearn their idea of education. Only then they will be able to revaluate and recognize their perspectives, priorities and practices in the education system and cater to the contemporary needs. Apart from learning to accumulate information, students must be trained in the art of inner assimilation through openness of mind, power of receptivity and above all, the humility to be lifelong learners. Studying and contemplating on the different perspectives and practices in education therefore warrants continuous effort from all thinkers and policy makers in the educational system. So let us learn to learn!

Dr. Mahesh Chandra Panda

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Clarion Call of Swami Vivekananda to Awake and Arise

Swami Vivekananda in his clarion call to those who are weak said, “Tell it to men who are weak and persist in telling it. You are the Pure One; awake and arise, O mighty one, this sleep does not become you. Awake and arise, it does not benefit you. Think not that you are weak and miserable. Almighty, arise and awake, and manifest your own nature. It is not fitting that you think yourself a sinner. It is not fitting that you think yourself weak. Say to the world, say it to yourselves, and see what a practical result comes, see how with an electric flash everything is manifested, how everything is changed. Tell that to mankind, and show them their power. Then we shall learn how to apply it in our daily lives”.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda

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Adhyatmikta, Spirituality deals with Atman, Spirit.

Adhyatmikta, spirituality, means that which deals with ‘what is within man’-the atman. It deals with Spirit or Self or atman which is divine, holy and immortal. Spirituality, thus, is the process of manifestation of this inherent divinity and holiness. Spirituality is the method through which one learns, and succeeds, in overcoming his lower nature which is characterised by attachment, greed, lust, egoism, jealousy and so on. With his mind transformed by spiritual practices such as prayer, worship, japa, dhyana, reading scriptures, chanting of hymns, singing of bhajans, seva, selfless action, and so on, a spiritual aspirant succeeds in attenuating his lower nature. When one`s lower nature is subdued, one`s higher nature reflects divinity in all his actions.

It depends on the individual which goal he is looking to achieve: one that relates to the physical body (materialism) or the other one that relates to the Self or Spirit (spirituality). It is the mind which is the guiding light in our spiritual quest. We should look upon it as a great fortune that for some reason or other, if our mind possesses an attraction for the higher goal of spirituality. Of course, we have to steadily proceed in our spiritual quest with perseverance to achieve the spiritual goal.

An individual born into this world is supposed to live for fulfilling four objectives which are called purusharthas in our scriptures. These are dharma, artha, kama and moksha. Dharma is learning the righteous ways of living; artha is earning one`s living; kama is fulfilling one`s legitimate desires by honest and righteous means. Moksha, the last and the spiritual objective is to be perceived by exploring spirituality to seek who, how and why of creation; and find out the way of spirit within self known as soul to finally merge with the supreme soul so that it need not come back to same world again.

We can only be able to experience the feelings, moods and essence of freedom in spirituality. We seek spiritual freedom to be aware of atman.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda

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Cultured Individuals Build Cultured Society

The English word ‘culture’ is derived from the Latin term cult or cultus, meaning ‘tilling, care, refinement and worship’ which means cultivating and refining a thing or subject matter to such an extent that its end product evokes our admiration and respect.

Social aspect of culture is basically influenced by association of individuals with their own family members. Though this association is taken to be granted, it has become very necessary to bring about a sense of togetherness and cohesion within a family as such cohesion is almost absent now-a-days in most of the families due to mechanical way of life. The secret of good human relationship with others is unselfish love and genuine consideration for the needs and feelings of others with sense of responsibility and duty towards others. The act ‘charity that begins at home’ need be gradually extended to the neighbours, friends and relatives as also other people, leading ultimately to the highest ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam ( the whole world is my family ).

It is natural that a cultured and refined individual will easily succeed in his efforts to build a cultured society at being in harmony with the other members of the society for the very reason that he is a cultured and refined individual.

Dr. Mahesh Chandra Panda

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Akarma or Inaction as Ultimate Nishkama or Selfless-action

Karma means willed action. Akarma is inaction. Vikarma is action that is prohibited. Karma may be nithya karma which is action that has to be performed every day, naimithyaka karma is that to be performed which is specific for person concerned, kamya karmas those are optional with a specific fruit in view and nishkama karmas are those actions that are performed without any personal benefit or authorship, as a sacrifice for the general good of others.

When a karma yogi does his duty with selfless attitude, his duty is determined by the rational insight in perfect harmony with the soul. A karma yogi rises from the level of rational insight to spiritual insight. He makes a paradigm shift from selfishness to selflessness. He becomes endowed with a unique perception of inaction which means, “He who sees no work in work, and work in no work, he is wise among men” (Bhagavad Gita 4.18).

Akarma or inaction invariably involves selfless work for universal welfare. Akarma is not non-action but action soaked in jnana, in the knowledge of the Self it is no longer a work. A person who has attained that state works without any desire and he has his senses and mind under perfect control. He understands that though he does his duties, it is not the real Self that acts rather the Self is in state of akarma or inaction. One who knows the truth that one is not an agent of the works that he is doing is freed and he only knows how to work.

One does not get inner peace and joy by escaping from action or doing it badly but by doing it well, rising from kamya karma to that of akarma darshana [ literally, ‘seeing inaction’ ] through nishkama karma. Doing work in state of akarma or inaction of Self, a person is freed from boredom, stress and strain of work and he becomes established in his divine nature involved in selfless work for universal welfare.

Dr Mahesh Chandra Panda

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Guru Ideal in Indian Tradition

In the Indian tradition, Guru is highly revered. He or she is held higher than one`s mother and father, and even God. Guru, in the spiritual sense, is not a mere teacher and guide but a facilitator for the shift in the disciple`s consciousness from lower to higher level. Guru leads one to God. Guru makes one know one`s real nature, his inherent divinity. The word Guru consists of two Sanskrit phrases-gu and ru. Gu means darkness and ru means removal. Hence Guru means the one who removes darkness and brings the light of knowledge.

In the ordinary sense, the term guru may be used to refer to an instructor, a trainer, a coach, a tutor, a lecturer and so on. Though in Sanskrit terms like acharya, upadhyaya and sikshak are used to denote a teacher, the word guru refers to the highest type of the teacher for he leads one to the Highest. Guru is called the greatest for he helps the disciple to check his passions and leads him beyond all relativity. He knows and teaches the essence of scriptures and therefore held as the embodiment of God himself. Guru is called Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Like Brahma, he creates spiritual hunger in his disciple; like Vishnu, he nurtures him and like Shiva, he liberates the disciple.

It is described in Chapter X of Shri Sai Satcharita that “There are two kinds of Gurus (1) Niyat (appointed or fixed) and (2) Aniyat (unappointed or general).The latter by their advice develop the good qualities in us, purify our hearts and set us on the path of salvation; but contact with the former dispels our sense of dualities (sense of difference) and establishes us in unity by making us realize ‘Thou art that’. There are various Gurus imparting to us various kinds of worldly knowledge; but he, who fixes us in our nature (Self) and carries us beyond the ocean of worldly existence, is the Sadguru. Sai Baba was such a Sadguru”.

Shirdi Sai Baba is my Guru Ideal since I became a Sai Baba devotee on October 14, 2008.

Shri Satchidananda Sadguru Sainath Maharaj Ki Jaya.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda
Shirdi Sai devotee

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Arise, Awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.

‘Arise, Awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.’This statement is Swami Vivekananda`s most popular phrase.The statement naturally presumes that we are not awake; indeed, we have busied ourselves with the outer world, forgetting our real nature. We may be awake to the external world, but to reality within, we are asleep in regard to our consciousness. We should awaken our consciousness within by spirituality.

‘Arise, Awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.’ We should arise out of the present state of inertia; arise from our state of rest. Life might have given us repeated blows. We blame the world, but it is our slumber that has caused all this suffering. We must awaken to our true identity—become aware of its existence.

‘Arise, Awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.’ This statement is important even in ordinary daily life. Wherever we might be, we should not stop progressing or working. We should continue our struggle. We should never be dejected or depressed when failures torment us. We should go ahead, and stop not till the goal is reached.

Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda

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